FRIENDS. *deep breath*
Okay, so here’s the thing. I’ve been keeping a secret from most of you guys for a while now and I’m ready to tell you. (Not really…but I’m going to anyway).
About 9 years ago, a little church in Plano sought me out to meet with their Kids’ Ministry team because they heard we were doing some new and interesting stuff in the community to reach families. I remember they were discouraged and uninspired. And in the two hours we spent together, God used me (insecure, “6-year old Christian” little me) to speak life and light and creativity into their sweet Methodist tribe. )I know, right? He is able.)
To this day, I have never forgotten those faces and what happened inside of me during our time together. I remember walking back to my little office/supply room/converted classroom with a feeling I’d never quite felt before. Like a burst of energy and light sabers and confetti exploded out of my heart followed by a choir of unicorns singing “We’re All in This Together” (choreography included because of course.) I’ve wanted to help those who lead kids ever since. But then…almost as quickly as the fireworks dissipated, Fear reared its ugly head.
Even though I’ve been in Kids’ Ministry for years now, teaching and leading and mentoring and making stuff, I’ve been completely and utterly afraid to do anything that even slightly positions me as an “expert” in any particular field.
I’ve been too afraid of criticism.
Afraid of lacking originality.
Afraid everybody else already did it and did it better.
Besides, between Marquita and I, she has been the one who traditionally makes ALL OF THE DREAMS COME TRUE and I have joyfully and contently supported every one of her creative endeavors. What could I contribute?
I’ve been afraid of not having anything of real value to add to the conversation.
Afraid of being too young.
Afraid of being too old.
Afraid of being exposed as a fraud.
Afraid of being labeled as a narcissist.
Fear, fear and more fear. I have a PH.D in Fear, you guys.
Here’s what I’ve decided to acknowledge. Even though Fear is a straight-up punk, you can use it to your advantage. It can either paralyze you or propel you. My wife would even venture to say it isn’t real, but I have yet to arrive there. I still feel very afraid.
But I’ve decided that I’d rather take a step forward in fear than take a dream to the graveyard. No one should bury a dream God places in their heart. That feels downright disobedient. I’ve also been talking to Jesus, and reading a book my friend recommended called Big Magic and with those two, Fear will seriously lose every time.
In the book, Elizabeth Gilbert even goes as far as writing a letter to Fear that I triple underlined, starred, and highlighted. She writes:
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life and that you take your job seriously. Apparently, your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and may I say, you are superb at your job.”
“So, by all means, keep doing your job if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way.”
“I recognize and respect that you are a part of this family and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still, your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, you’re allowed to have a voice, but you’re never allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps, you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
The author suggests a healthy amount of fear actually assists you in the decision-making process – just as long as it’s never in charge. I’ve been working so hard at trying to eject fear from the car altogether, when all the while I should have just strapped it to a Britax, and placed it directly behind my driver’s side seat, facing the rear window.
I’ve also realized that as much as I don’t want to admit it, I’ve been given a small platform and should share what I’ve been given. My friend, Elle, would say it’s not about me, it’s about my work and my work just needs a voice. Oh, that and I’m not an expert. Never will be. She and her husband have taught me how to be a life-long learner and the importance of sharing both our epic wins and epic fails respectively.
So here goes. The vision isn’t perfect. My mission isn’t totally clear. I just know that I want to write and make stuff that inspires kids and the heroes who lead them – teachers, parents, mentors, small group leaders. As I learn and blog and gather ideas my teams and I have had over the years, I hope to continually refine my message. But until then, I will create content that I hope will help people in the kids’ ministry space – whether inside or outside the local church.
SO BE A PAL, visit my website, like my Facebook page, and say a bunch of encouraging things like, “Awesome! Go for it!”, and “Jesus can do it through you!” and “Will He won’t?!” and “Won’t He will!?” and stuff like that. It will be a (totally scary) honor and a (sweat-inducing) privilege to share Elementary Ninja with you guys. OKAY BYE.